2017 may have been many things, but it certainly wasn’t boring. It was also another great year for London’s restaurant scene: we’ve seen plenty of new dining destinations open, and watched on as igloos, zero-waste menus and everywhere being a ‘sharing concept’ all became unstoppable trends. In honour of this great year for food, we asked some SquareMealers to each name their greatest meal in London of the year.
Core by Clare Smyth, Notting Hill (above)
Why: I must admit that my heart can sink when anticipating having to review a new fine-dining restaurant; there’s often more to admire than there is to enjoy. Having racked up 11 years maintaining three Michelin stars at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, I knew Clare Smyth could cook with her master’s voice, but I wasn’t prepared for the creative fireworks that she’d be unleashing at her first solo project – nor the loosened-up vibe she’d communicate through every aspect of the restaurant. Fine dining, but fun – and an absolute must visit.
Where: 92 Kensington Park Road, W11 2PN
Ben McCormack, editor
Why: After two years of nomadic pop-up life, Kricket finally addressed its commitment issues and came to settle on Denman Street in Soho. The restaurant specialises in small plates but you definitely won’t leave hungry. The Keralan fried chicken stands up well against the tide of competition but it was the vegetarian dishes that really caught my attention (mounds of crispy samphire pakoras drizzled with sticky tamarind chutney are worth visiting for alone). Knowledgeable staff and a relaxed setting make this a great Soho go-to.
Where: 12 Denman Street, W1D 7HH
Rosie Morris, content manager
Madame D’s, City
Why: From the team behind Gunpowder, this walk-ins only site serves up Himalayan-inspired small plates. The beauty of Madame D’s is that the simplicity of the setting means the food knocks you for six. I particularly loved the masala noodles, which came smothered in spicy minced lamb and topped with a runny fried egg. Another favourite was the puffy-battered Himalayan fried chicken strips with vinegar dipping sauce. Sweet staff and the promise of post-meal drinks (Madame D’s is above cocktail bar Spirit of Seventy Six) are further pluses.
Where: 2nd Floor, 76 Commercial Street, E1 6LY
Eamonn Crowe, news editor
Why: Catalans are known for being fiercely proud of their food, and they’ve got good reason to be. Hence my excitement for chef Victor Garvey’s latest place, where prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is jolly. Imported anchovies served simply with bread, butter and shallots are a highlight, but it’s the braised oxtail canelones (AKA Catalan cannelloni) that are one of my fave things I’ve eaten all year. The slivers of meat are oh-so-tender, and the mini-casserole dish it’s served in bubbles with melted nevat cheese – perfection.
Where: 64 Dean Street, W1D 4QG
Lizzie Frainier, content editor
Why: Having never tried Taiwanese food before, I was a little apprehensive when reading the menu. However, putting my trust in the team paid off and this was undoubtedly the best meal I've eaten this year. The stand-out dishes for me were the shou pa chicken (it comes with an amazing chicken skin dip – need I say more?) and the lardo rice. Every dish was incredible, and I pinpointed things I want to try next time – I can’t wait to go back!
Where: 30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL
Sarah Clifford, restaurant partnerships manager
For more restaurant ideas, check out our London’s hot 100 restaurants 2017 list, or get excited for 2018 with our list of restaurants coming soon.